…shake the dust from your feet…
Throughout my life I have moved, relocated, and been transplanted. I have lived under the ‘authority’ of my parents or with ‘authority’ over our children.
The authority that Luke speaks of is the authority of responsibility. Jesus gave his apostles the authority, the responsibility to “cure diseases… proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Jesus offered nothing beyond themselves; what he had already given them. He offered them no healing herbs, no potions, no medical skills, no additional anything. He sent them off with “… nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,…no second tunic.” But neither did Jesus say anything about expectations or results. In fact, he says, “…as for those who don’t welcome you, shake the dust from your feet.” He does not say to stick around, try and try again, or be persistent. He says to keep going, to keep moving on, to stay faithful to the mission.
This is not about the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ of the sending. It is not about success or failure. It is about the journey itself. This is not about the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ of my vocation. It is about being sent – again and again. It is about having the freedom to go in spite of uncertainties. It is about freedom from success or failure, people, places, and fears. It is about journey and mission, freedom, response and responsibility. It is about inner movement, inner change, as well as physical relocation. It is about the relationship between me and Jesus, me and others. It is about trusting who I am in the heart of God and that what I have been given is enough for the journey.
I heard the provincial of a religious order say that the most difficult aspect of his role was to get his brothers to relocate, to move-on with the mission. I was flabbergasted. Relocating is my life’s story. As a military dependent, a child or wife, I have relocated 13 times. The last seven as a spouse, a mother with at least one and as many as 5 children in tow. With each relocation came anxieties of the unknown: a new home, new neighbors, new schools, new parishes, new responsibilities and on occasion a new language, customs and cultures. But always the mission was the same. Responsibility and relationship. I had a secure trusting relationship with my God and with family. I trusted my experience of both. I was never alone. God was always with me and I was always with another. Maybe that was Jesus’ gift to his apostles; they relocated, they journeyed in a trusting companionship of their brother apostles and God remained with them.
We don’t hear of the apostles’ immediate challenges or emotional supports. We don’t hear of their regrets or surprises. For me, the challenges of movement, inner and physical, have been the source of untold surprises and my most valued gift.
A brave, trusting young single mother with a 5 year-old child in tow recently relocated over a thousand miles from home. They left almost everything; taking only what they could carry in 3 suitcases. One suitcase contained only toys including a dissembled doll house and a scooter! Not exactly true, they each had a carry-on and back pack, with a baby doll’s head poking out of each. They lugged their own anxieties, but hand-in-hand they went. Mom’s mission was the same as always - responsibility for and relationship with her God, her child and her patients.
The Good News is to hold fast to the journey, shaking the dust from my feet, moving deeper into relationship and responsibility.
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